MENTAL MUTHA MEETS MRS H
MENTAL MUTHA MEETS MRS H
Are you a Mental Mum or a Mum that's mental?
I think I'm a little of column A and a little of column B. I was 20 years old when I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after a controlling relationship. The PTSD then turned into suicidal depression and I now have a diagnosis of chronic depression and anxiety. So I've had mental health issues for the majority of my adult life.
And when my husband and I decided we wanted to start a family it was a decision that involved my psychiatrist. It was also a very long process, as I had to be weaned off the antidepressants that I was on and go on some that were safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Becoming a mother has definitely helped my mental health. I now feel that I have a reason to go on, even when I feel at my worse. However, it has also made me feel more vulnerable and put more pressure on myself.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Meditate? Talk? Hide?
When my depression and anxiety are overwhelming I always want to sleep. But with a 20-month-old and a four-year-old, this isn't always possible. So I've had to look to other ways of coping. I find writing my blog is a great form of therapy. There are times when the words just come pouring out and I have to write them down in a blog post. I also talk to my husband about how I'm feeling. And I let myself cry. My depression and anxiety are always much worse when I hold the tears in. But crying is healing and so I allow myself to cry when I need to.
Do you discuss your mental health with your mum mates?
Yes, to an extent. I will tell them if I'm having a bad day and if my depression and anxiety aren't good. But I won't really go into details about the thoughts that go round my head or how I actually feel. As I know it's difficult to understand why someone would feel that way. Depression is a sickness and there are scientific reasons why I suffer as I do. Yet when I'm struggling with my depression and anxiety my thought patterns and emotions can sound a little... well... insane.
How do you tackle mental health chats with your kids?
My children are still very young and so talking to them about my depression and anxiety is difficult. But they see me cry or fight panic attacks so I have started to mention it.
Our family uses the word "ouchy" when one of us hurts ourselves. So when I'm depressed, I often tell Little Miss H that my heart has an ouchy. However, I'm beginning to worry that she might start to think I have a heart problem. In the past few weeks, I've begun to tell her that mummy has an illness that makes her sad. That it is nothing to worry about and it has nothing to do with her or her brother. I love them both very much and always will. But sometimes mummy gets sad and she has to cry.
Who helps you in the dark? (In your pits, your mental rock bottom - who is your hero?)
My husband. He is my hero. Ever since we met he has dealt with my mental health brilliantly. He is a huge support and he is never phased by anything I say. And he always seems to know exactly what I need when I'm down or anxious. I'm very lucky to have him.
What helps you in the light? (Meditation? Procrastination? Perspiration? People?)
Getting out of the house. Doing the school run. Seeing friends. Taking the little man to toddler groups. Or even just going for a walk in the woods near our house and getting some fresh air.
Is it hard to talk about your mental health? (Doesn't mean on Instagram necessarily, but do you feel the stigma is lifting and do you feel safe to speak your mind, even if it is possibly 'mental'?)
Yes and no. I will willingly tell people that I suffer from mental health problems. Depression and anxiety are now as much a part of me as my right arm. I can't hide that and I'm not ashamed of suffering with mental health problems. I didn't choose this way. This is an illness that I have. Just as someone else might have high blood pressure or diabetes.
However, sometimes I do struggle to talk about how I'm actually feeling. I worry about saying too much and not being able to take back the words that are said. When my depression was at its height there were many times when my actions or words destroyed relationships and friendships. And that really hurts. So although I will talk about my mental health I also try to protect others from it too.
I still think there is a long way to go before the stigma is fully lifted. People just don't understand how an illness can make you feel that way. I was talking to a friend the other day. I was being honest about how I was feeling and she told me it was ridiculous. That it made no sense for me to feel that way. I just shrugged her comment off. But later I thought that if I suffered from angina or epilepsy she wouldn't describe my feelings as ridiculous.
Where's your head at right now?
Today is a good day. But last week was not good. I really struggled and one day I did the school run mid panic attack. One of the benefits of having struggled with my mental health for so long is that I understand it now. I know when I'm falling into the darkness and I know what I need to do to pull myself into the light.
Soft play or rehab?
The idea of rehab terrifies me. So I think I will say soft play. It can be a living hell. But my kids love it so that makes it worthwhile.
Jacob's Creek or a Jacobs cracker?
Jacob's Creek - I won't say no to a glass of wine.
Nut job or nut allergy?
Nut job - it's official!
Self care or self sabotage?
In my early 20s I was all about the self sabotage. I hated myself and wanted to destroy myself in everyway I could. Now, at the age of 39, I'm finally appreciating the importance of self care.
Journal or jog?
A bit of both. Exercise always makes me feel better but so does using my bullet journal. And using my bullet journal helps me to feel more organised which can help with the anxiety.
Ask for help or happy to hermit?
Instinctively when I'm feeling depressed or anxious I want to isolate myself. I want to protect other people from having to cope with me when I'm in that frame of mind. Over the years, I've learnt how destructive that can be. So I will now always ask for help. Mainly from my husband. But I'll also talk to medical professionals if things are really bad. I was suicidal in my early 20s. And I will never let myself go there again. So If I need to ask for help to stop that from happening then that is what I will do.
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Women talking unashamedly about their mental health and parenting innit.